Pumpehuset, Copenhagen, DEN - 15/4
support Sorority Noise + Alpha Male
author PP date 20/10/16 venue UnderWerket, Copenhagen, DEN
After having steadily gained traction despite a radical stylistic change on album number two, Turnover made it onto Danish shores as a part of a Scandinavian leg that would take them to Gothenburg next. While we'd heard great things about Turnover's live performances, it was support band Sorority Noise that stole the limelight tonight with an energetic performance for the ages. And prior to them, local up and coming group Alpha Male, who seem to be playing every show they can get, for the time being, warmed us up with their atmospheric indie/alternative rock. And what's better, UnderWerket was packed nearly to its limits tonight in a surprising turnout. Like my fellow scribe, TL, put it on the day, "Turnover? More like Turnout, amirite?".
After a well-received performance opening for shoegazers Nothing in September, Alpha Male are back supporting a prime set of bands tonight at UnderWerket. They've started making a name for themselves in the Copenhagen scene through indie-flavored, expansive soundscapes that are as soothing as they are echoing and far-reaching. Their singer sounds like a young Matthew Bellamy, and many tracks indeed draw parallels to Muse both stylistically but also in terms of ambition. "We've practiced like hell recently", they say, and it shows. The band looks impressively confident and tight on stage for such a young band without a debut release out yet; their songs sound so likewise. With lots of variety and progressive tendencies, their big soundscapes may need some refinement, but combined with the solid rocking out on stage, I'm inclined to state this has some serious potential.
By the time Sorority Noise get on stage, the venue is packed, a rare sight at UnderWerket these days. The group has received their fair share of critical and fan acclaim for last year's "Joy, Departed", but I don't think any of us were prepared for the tour de forcé the band displayed on the small stage tonight. They begin with "Nolsey", a great example of the quiet/loud dynamics that the band toys with throughout the set, which culminates in a small sing along during the "I pretend that you love me" section towards the end of the song. A little nuance of Bayside found in the screeching guitar melody grabs my attention straight away. But following song "Blonde Hair, Black Lungs" is all it takes to the get the crowd properly going. It's a louder song featuring a screamed out loud section, during which the band wreak havoc on stage and thrash around like they were in a screamo band. The catchy lyrics of "What does it mean to be happy? [...] I've gotten better at getting better" of "Mononokay" follow next in an awesome melody and once again containing energetic shouts that are reflected in crazy amounts of stage movement as well.
The band sway between indie rock, emo, and punk rock sections seamlessly, with quiet/loud dynamics aired in a constant fashion. The louder parts see high energy movement on stage, the quieter moments have a distinct emotional charge that just feels addicting when experienced life. When you add in down-to-earth interaction, such as the speech about manic depression, which their singer admits to suffering from, the result is an impressive set characterized by great energy, great songs, and great variety. This band will be much bigger in the coming years.
As mentioned earlier, Turnover opted for a rather dramatic shift stylistically between their debut album "Magnolia" and its successor "Peripheral Vision". That change appears to be a conscious and permanent choice, at least if we are to base it on the setlist tonight. Any "Magnolia" fans here tonight expecting to hear old material would be sorely disappointed as the band exclusively play songs off "Peripheral Vision" and the split EP from 2014, which was the first step away from the faster and louder "Magnolia" sound. Don't get me wrong: it's not that the new sound is bad... it's just very different. Going from a punk-fueled, dreamy Title Fight / Balance & Composure style sound into a light, fluffy indie rock soundscape is a big pill to swallow, but fortunately on record, Turnover completed the shift gracefully.
To work properly, the introspective indie songs off the new record need good sound, a seldom heard concept at UnderWerket. Tonight, however, seems to be the exception. With a flawless, crystal clear sound, every detail and playful, albeit light guitar note is richly present in the soundscape, which helps alleviate fears on how the quieter songs would turn out live. The stage is bathing in blue light, which accentuates the laid back, depth-laden vibe that songs like "Humming" and "Like Slow Disappearing" exhibit. The atmosphere is quiet and chill, and very quickly starts feeling kind of samey, despite the relatively catchy melodies a few songs possess in their light indie rock fervor. Smooth, flawless guitars are good, but feel kind of nondescript, and don't exactly encourage interaction or sing-alongs. In contrast, Sorority Noise blew Turnover out the water energy wise on stage, which was to be expected, but rather worryingly, you can make the same argument song wise as the set progresses.
There are a few yawners in between, but once we reach the good songs off the new album, things get much better. "New Scream", for instance, is solid, and "Hello Euphoria" draws small sing-alongs during its "Thinner at the waist line" segments. Finally, the band finishes with "Dizzy On The Comedown", saving the set in the end from disappointment. It's a shame they ignore "Magnolia" material because there aren't enough great songs amongst the new material to fill an entire set, not to even mention that after a while, the sameness of the songs sound becomes bothersome. An excellent sound brings out the best qualities of the new songs, but a forgettable stage presence does not, especially in such a direct and explicit contrast with Sorority Noise just before.
- 1. Cutting My Fingers Off
- 2. Humming
- 3. Like Slow Disappearing
- 4. I Would Hate You If I Could
- 5. Humblest Pleasures
- 6. Take My Head
- 7. Diazepam
- 8. New Scream
- 9. Change Irreversible
- 10. Hello Euphoria
- 11. Dizzy On The Comedown
Photos by: Philip B Hansen